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March 03 2009

Dollhouse - "it's an adult series, requiring an adult perspective". Now that the shock of the new has worn off, we're starting to get some good essays about Joss' latest show. Shadowkat's LJ entry about 'Stage Fright' and the show as a whole is well worth reading.

Cheers to moscow watcher for the heads up.

Sierra, not Serena, but aside from that error and some grammatical mistakes, not a bad analysis.
Someone else will have to tell me how awesome it is, because I stopped when a variant of my most hated imaginary word "squicky" was used two sentences in a row ;).

ETA - Ok, a quick skim later and it has a lot of interesting bits, but its not "Rianna" either.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-04 00:09 ]
I've never heard that word before. I like it.

"Plus it gives me nightmares, which makes me wonder why I'm bothering with it."

I'm the opposite. Yeah, the idea of the Dollhouse is kind of nightmarish (for me, anyway) since even before the show started and yet that is why I am tuning in. Maybe Echo isn't really a person so it makes it difficult for some to be invested in her as a character, but if that technology was even close to real, then Echo could be anyone and I for one am all about rooting for even a blank slate because of that. She is the ultimate underdog.

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2009-03-04 00:12 ]
I've never heard that word before. I like it.


BANNED!
Um, I don't want to be banned (or have a sword thrown at me) but clearly, squicky, is defined in the Urban dictionary as, "icky."

Now you need to tell us your top 3 most hated imaginary words Zeitgeist!

(My pet peeve word/phrase is "Whatnot." It means exactly nothing.)
Nah, if it meant exactly nothing you could whatnot use it in any whatnot place of a typical whatnot sentence[1]. And obviously, you can't ;).

[1]actually, this logic is wrong
When I discovered the original meaning of squicky I felt sick.
Squick and squee are the top two, but I've done enough leading us offtopic for one day. Meanwhile, back on the topic... interesting that the most incisive and illuminating reviews and critiques are coming from amateurs.
The author seems to have a big problem with names (Serena/Sierra, Audry/Audra, Rihanna/Rayna, Lubvic/Lubov) and generally needs a proofreader, stat! And the writer gives a nice recap, but I really thought the commentary was a bit thin.
Wow, I used to love Shadowkat's Buffy essays back in the day. Here if anyone is interested.
I agree Latin. It was a refresher from TV critics, but I wouldn't say the commentary was insightful. (And it's Dominic, not Reed Diamond. :p)

Pointy's blog does an analysis of each episode and I find those to be very deep, insightful, and inspirational to find my own truth. The reviews even go as far as to get names right and look up episode titles (wow!). Does anyone remember the site? GVH had it, but I don't remember (it was linked before).
I think people are being picky about something written in a person's lj. This isn't a professional review, it's a fan musing about a show she's watching.
Squick and squee are two very useful online words. I suppose you don't like kerfluffle either.
One of the beautiful things about out language is it's evolution. Always open to new words.

On topic, the writer makes some very good points.

[ edited by Xane on 2009-03-04 02:41 ]
Oh I always love Shadowkat's insights, and I know not to worry about a random misspelled or forgotten name, it is usually pretty easy to get her point. And her point is usually something I didn't think up my own self, and often inspires me to look more deeply. Thank you for posting it Simon!
I think I agree with the 'adult series/adult perspective' idea, but since it's a Joss show, I'm reasonably certain that the early episodes have only begun to scratch the surface. How much had the Buffyverse developed by the start of the fourth episode? Not much, right?

We really don't have a meaningful idea what Dollhouse as a whole is about, who these people are, or where these stories are leading. We have some hints, but so far, not much else. I trust that Joss & Co. are messing with our minds, in a good way, and that our notions as yet are inadequate, but then again, I'm already a fan.

My primary hope is that we get the chance to find out what's going on over the course of many seasons yet to come.
Can you be an adult, with an adult perspective, and still not like Dollhouse?

I'm trying to decide if I should be amused or disgusted...
Think La Femme Nikita...only without memories. (Or maybe with...we don't know. It has yet to be revealed.)
I'm really wishing this show was on Showtime or HBO.
There are so many interesting (aka "grown-up") places and situations this show could take it there was more leeway in the storytelling.
I also wish our TV wasn't funded by advertiser dollars and subject to attack from fundie loonies, but a girl can dream, can't she?
I wish the best for Dollhouse...but I've been Firefly'd too many times.
Squick and squee are two very useful online words. I suppose you don't like kerfluffle either.
One of the beautiful things about out language is it's evolution. Always open to new words.


You are mistaken, but you are entitled to be :) I prefer kerfuffle to kerfluffle. I am, indeed, a classicist.
I'm with zeitgeist on his assessment of those dread words all the way. They cause a shudder in my soul and a crack in my spine. Yes, I hate them quite a lot. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate that languages evolve. Obviously they do. But not every neologism sounds great to every ear. So it goes.

The posted lj piece is an interesting if kind of rambling and mistakes-threaded review. (I get that her lj entries are not edited or checked, and that's okay with me. The points come through, and they are interesting ones.) I agree with much of what she has to say, although my take on Dollhouse as a whole is more positive, I suppose.
Kerfluffle sounds like a fabric softener.

I think the main problem with Dollhouse is that it started in a morally complex place a lot of shows would've worked up to. You usually start with some people we're led to root for, and some people we're not led to root for. Even with a pirate ship full of criminal types, Mal's clearly a hero. He's got that shiny honor among thieves badge and we love him because people keep trying to knock if off and he just smacks back harder. Jayne walks an interesting and very different thuggish moral line, but still in contrast our bad guys who are all pretty damn bad.

Who are we rooting for in the Dollhouse pilot? Echo, because she's vulnerable. Boyd and Eleanor, because they can save the kid. Boyd because he emotes to break hearts, and he has the heroic urgency no one else in the show seems to be feeling. But Boyd is working for people whom he helps do deeply troubling things. Paul could be our guy outside the Dollhouse, except he's like Agent Mulder minus the humor and endearing quirks. He's like the scarily superfocused Mulder we meet later on. Dark Mulder only 3 episodes in! Topher's quirky and a bit fun but also the guy at the heart of creepy and very twisted application of science. Adelle and Laurence are clearly weighing the values of human lives every day as business transactions and security risks. Dr. Saunders seems, like Boyd, to be one of the more empathic people in the Dollhouse. But she also works there, and we don't know much about her yet. Even a witty and sympathetic client-- and we've seen 2 out of 3-- is clearly shown to be willing to pay for a sex partner whose consent is programmed.

Every single person is morally compromised. Except maybe the Actives, whose true characters are a mystery and who can be seen as victims. Personally, I like it, but it's a very strange place for a tv show to start from. It's definitely not Buffy = fights evil, Scoobies = help Buffy, Master = very bad, Giles = stuffy wisdom territory. It's like we've joined the action in the middle of Season 6, where everything's pretty messed up, and who we think of as good and bad is going to depend entirely on what they decide to in reaction to things that haven't happened yet.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-03-04 05:34 ]
I think everybody in the dollhouse is a doll. Actives and employees. Boyd is just a better version of a handler program. Cause the last version didn't work out too well. Even the "boss lady" .
I have been wondering about Adele.
Good article, I thought, though I was a little thrown by the suggestion that Buffy was something "you can watch with the kiddies," vs Dollhouse, which is not. I'll grant that Dollhouse is not a show for wee tykes but neither was Buffy, for heaven's sakes--I'm pretty sure showing anything from the Buffy/Spike (or the Buffy/Riley, or the Xander/Anya, or the Willow/Tara or Willow/Kennedy or any of it or you get the idea) sequences to small children would not be big smarts.
When I discovered the original meaning of squicky I felt sick.


OMG, same here. I can't even think about the real meaning of the word without gagging.

If anyone is interested in more meta on Joss' shows, check out Mutant Allies on Livejournal. I used to read it all the time during and right after the last season of Angel. You can search by subject in the memories.
Does anyone remember the site? GVH had it, but I don't remember (it was linked before).


Yeah, but I read it at work, so I didn't bookmark. I guess if anyone has the link ready to repost, it's Pointy. That was some insightfull stuff. Maybe we should, y'know, also link to it off the main page?

As for 'squicky'... what's the real meaning then? I thought it was a combination of 'squeamish' and 'icky'. No?
As for 'squicky'... what's the real meaning then? I thought it was a combination of 'squeamish' and 'icky'. No?


Well, I think moley might have actually meant "squick". I'm surprised how difficult it is to find the original meaning of the word when you try to look it up, but if you google "to squick" it will pop up. It's a verb, and a very nasty one. When I first looked it up, the site I went to explained it in graphic detail, which wasn't helpful.

However, I do warn people not to look it up. You really don't want to know.
Stopped reading when she dismissed 4 of the 7 Buffy seasons ie. most of the show
korkster: "Pointy's blog does an analysis of each episode and I find those to be very deep, insightful, and inspirational to find my own truth. The reviews even go as far as to get names right and look up episode titles (wow!). Does anyone remember the site? GVH had it, but I don't remember (it was linked before)."

Pointy's insightful blog is "Do Lurkers Dream of Electric Peeps?" - which he shares with jaynelovesvera. (I dunno if all you'all remember him, but I have no doubt that jlv named their blog, as well.)

If you poke around, you can find other good bits from both of them. It's subtitled "Home of Pointy’s Whedony insights & jlv’s window washing emporium."
though I was a little thrown by the suggestion that Buffy was something "you can watch with the kiddies," vs Dollhouse, which is not. ... I'm pretty sure showing anything from the Buffy/Spike... or any of it or you get the idea) sequences to small children would not be big smarts.


One thinks I should have gotten used to statements like this by now, but alas no. Ok, if "small children" is about 5-6 Im with you, but mostly 'cos its hard to talk to them about concepts they havent fully grasped yet. But on the whole I find it strange that many Americans, and now I might be a tad prejudiced, seem to think that its a good thing to try to fool kids that there is no such thing as sex. Unfortunately people have sex all the time, so they gonna find out.

On the whole I think Buffy is one of the better shows to watch with kids, both because it will hopefully get some good ideas in their heads as well as provide good material for discussions between children and parents.

Good article by the way.
zeitgeist - I never took you to be a wordist. Squick has a right to be here on this god given earth as much as any other word, even the word moist, even. It once started out as letters a long, long, time ago, too, you know. Came from very good pedigrees, Ick and Squeamish, both of latin ancestry, I believe. It maybe not as refined and regal as, well, regal, but it can hold its' own I tells ya.


Signed, Squee.

ETA - please ignore this post and refer to my later posts when I actually find out the word squick really means.

[ edited by RollingInKittens on 2009-03-04 15:17 ]
Oh, RollingInKittens, I'm afraid you have been greatly mislead as to the pedigree and origins of squick.

I'll just say this: it's onomatopoeic.
However, I do warn people not to look it up. You really don't want to know.


:|. You weren't lying, electricspacegirl. A world of yuck.
darn it all, now I'm curious as hell to look it up and equally afraid to be grossed out (and it's lunchtime here where I am). How bad can it be?
I did look it up, and since I'd watched The Aristocrats, was not shocked. That's the second meaning, though and since it's generally the first meaning that's used, I'm not offended by seeing it.

So, what's wrong with squee, besides it being a 'girly' kind of word?
ilion - squick being onomatopoeic sounds wonderfully ono-orthopaedic, which sounds awfully relaxing and therapeutic, and not at all squeam inducing. (Ok, I'll quit the squick shtick quick, 'cos it's probably giving everyone the...) : )

ETA - as said before, please ignore this post and refer to last post. (Damn you zeitgeist for making me edit!)

[ edited by RollingInKittens on 2009-03-04 15:08 ]
My head swells like one of my posts, korkster, GVH and QuoterGal (and, like the old Joss Continuum, E-Peeps' name is stolen from JLV's vasty wit)!

I find myself needing this show, and it's just three eps old. It cuts very deep, this fantasy about the pleasures and perils of fantasies.

In order:

1. On the Uses and Abuses of Enchantment, or Dollhouse Premieres!.
2. Dollhouse Heads Into the Woods with Episode 2: “The Target”.
3. Dollhouse Episode 3 “Stage Fright”.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-03-04 14:47 ]
It depends on the search you did, redeem147. I got this (seriously, don't click the link if you don't like to be verbally grossed out) as the first hit, and the first meaning there pretty much grossed me out.

But yeah, I don't get the 'squee' hate either. It's always sounded like such a fun word.

ETA: You're welcome, Pointy ;). Now get your big head out of here, it's blocking my view :p.

[ edited by GVH on 2009-03-04 14:20 ]
Hmmm. If IMDB has it right, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2829954/

course they also list her as Ellie and Mellie for two different eps

spoiler-texted

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-04 14:35 ]
I'm a big fan of squee. I use it almost as much as woot. Never heard of squick before, and it carries no appeal.

The made-up word that drives me nuts is looser used as a noun in place of loser. I used to think it was just a misspelling, but I see it so often I am now convinced it is a conspiracy.
I find "looser" is often used by the same people who type "their" when they mean "they're" and "it's" when they mean "its". And I agree it is a conspiracy -- to drive me and my fellow grammar/spelling nerds crazy. :)
Ok, I looked it up, (curse you GVH!) and yes it's squeam inducing. Have officially become a wordist and, curse you also Zeitgeist for extending my vocab in a not so educational way. I will never be the same again. *Rings therapist*

[ edited by RollingInKittens on 2009-03-04 15:44 ]
And also, this teaches me not to post until I know the full meaning of words, as thought said word meant icky.
Where is Saje when you need him?

[ edited by RollingInKittens on 2009-03-04 15:31 ]
We are a sexualised fandom so expect sexual fan references.
Hehe, while that is true, people actually are trying to use squick/squicky as disgusting/icky/gross, rather than the older, alt.tasteless/Subgenius-era meaning. Regardless, its hard not to think of the "old version" when people say/type it.
One thinks I should have gotten used to statements like this by now, but alas no. Ok, if "small children" is about 5-6 Im with you, but mostly 'cos its hard to talk to them about concepts they havent fully grasped yet. But on the whole I find it strange that many Americans, and now I might be a tad prejudiced, seem to think that its a good thing to try to fool kids that there is no such thing as sex. Unfortunately people have sex all the time, so they gonna find out.

On the whole I think Buffy is one of the better shows to watch with kids, both because it will hopefully get some good ideas in their heads as well as provide good material for discussions between children and parents.


Well, the term "kiddies" tends to mean pre-pubescent; I would not deem Buffy appropriate for 11-and-under, even if just for the fact that there's a stack of hysterical (and highly quotable) but not school-appropriate language. I wouldn't suggest trying to keep kids in the dark about sex, either, but a child should probably have at least a solid academic knowledge of the way sex is *supposed* to work before having to mentally sort out the generally very dysfunctional sexual relationships of highly admirable Buffy characters.

Buffy does not have Sesame Street issues: Buffy has grown up problems of death, depression, self-loathing, etc.; she also has lousy relationships and swears a lot, and though her character makes her a great role model, that needs to be separated from her often self-destructive behavior. And I know a lot of kids who just aren't sophisticated enough to bridge that gap. The show is appropriate for teenagers (and woe betide the annoying censors who say otherwise) but kids addicted to the Disney Channel should be steered clear.
I think a person has to know their kids. My niece has watched all Joss' shows (and loves Dollhouse) and she's not yet quite eleven. She watches with her dad who is always willing to discuss any questions she has.

My daughter was eleven when Buffy started, and I know she was watching it from the beginning. I was watching JAG in the other room, which proves the kid had better taste than her mom.
Yeah, I'd want to wait until kids were old enough to really "get" the show on its many levels (early high school at least) before introducing them to Buffy. And while I don't think children should be kept in the dark about sex, I don't think film representations of it are particularly good for a child's sexual development either. Again, let them get there first.

It sounds like "squick" (verb) has a meaning that is surely not related to the common use of "squicky" (adjective) (which I also assumed is just putting together words like squeamish and icky, but also, the word just sounds gross, so it fits).

Still no sign of Saje???
I think a person has to know their kids.

Yeah. Stuff like that is always individual, I guess. I have a niece and nephew, eleven and nine, who I think will be ready for it in a few years. Right now, they'd probably enjoy it but they'd just be missing so much. I'm gonna wait. Christmas in four years, maybe.
LeafOnTheWind: There's swearing in Buffy? I've never noticed any.

Simon: Speak for yourself! ;-)
Sunfire,
Nice analysis. Much better than the one linked to.

Boyd because he emotes to break hearts.
Great line. At this point I desperately want to know WHY Boyd is working for the Dollhouse. There has to be something really bad in his past. In some ways more interested in that question than in what Echo's past is. So, 3 episodes in, I'm hooked.

And looked up "squick." Struck me as self-consciously gross in a pathetically juvenile way. A wannabee shocker.
I don't think film representations of it are particularly good for a child's sexual development either. Again, let them get there first.


I do agree in most cases. But the question is "how do they get there". If you wait till they are teenagers they will have gotten there all on their own, and gotten the information from places that is defenitly not good for them
Outside of the silly a** word squicky l have to give props for his essay You can't compare buffy to dollhouse two totally different concepts besides there have been shows that started off with low ratings but went on to be big hits
But the question is "how do they get there". If you wait till they are teenagers they will have gotten there all on their own, and gotten the information from places that is defenitly not good for them

By "get there" I just mean develop into fully sexual beings without being overexposed on the way. That development happens naturally. As for information, I'm not sure watching messed up explicit sexual relationships on TV really provides a lot of necessary information or education. Parents can provide whatever info they see fit, and school sex ed. programs fill in (usually inadequately IMO) where parents might be failing, but mostly kids are curious and they get the information they want, whether it's from school or parents or friends or wherever. The sex on Buffy isn't educational (and there are videos out there that are meant to be educational) - it's part of a rich and complex story that I think is more accessible to teens / adults.

I definitely don't think it's "bad" for kids to watch the kind of see-nothing sex portrayed in Buffy. I just think that (depending on the kid) it could be confusing or stimulating in ways that aren't really comfortable or helpful if they are prepubescent. I'd want to wait until I was confident that they'd reached a point, physically and emotionally, where what they were seeing made the right kind of sense to them. For their enjoyment of the show and all its layers, as much as for any other reason!

But as redeem147 said above, I think it's an individual call, depending on the kid.
dzr: Buffy makes liberal use of "ass" and "bitch" and various colorful permutations thereof; nothing to get the FCC on your tail but good for a TV-14 rating and probably not something for any but very mature under-12 crowd (repeating catchy Buffy-isms in fifth grade tends to evoke a forceful response from school officials).

As for the sexy stuff, I probably should've emphasized that, beyond painfully realistic relationship dynamics, Buffy is just a heavy heavy show. Sure, it's funny, but good grief, I'm a grown adult and watching season six in concentrated doses left me bummed for days. I mean, have you seen "Normal Again"? Brilliant study of solipsism, yes, great television, yes--kids' stuff? Heeeeeell no. Again, I'm not saying Buffy should be behind the ratty curtain in the video store, but I'm not sure the average grade-schooler would appreciate it and I would not recommend it to them unless their parents vetted episodes first.

If I had kids, I'd probably introduce them to Buffy around age 12, watch it with them, and answer questions, but I wouldn't recommend it to strangers for the same purpose as inoffensive warm-fuzzy family entertainment. Joss did not make the show for the kiddie set; if he had, it wouldn't be the Buffy we know and love.
We're veering off-topic here, I guess, but am I the only one who wouldn't let a kid watch Buffy because of the amount of *violence* in it?
Re: squick.

I looked it up, and now have a sound clip in my head of what it would sound like with animated bunnies (threads merging!). Is it troublesome that this no longer bothers me and I kind of find it funny? We should make a poem about squicky squick the squid to warn children about the consequences of... being in that situation? Maybe it's the lack of caffeine...

(now to squicking a big head... poor Pointy. I couldn't resist!)

Echo decides to “Stage [a] Fright” to save the day, first when she threatens to hand Rayna over to the embodiment of her self-destruction-masked-as-self-creation, and more particularly when she shoves her off the catwalk, to which Rayna may not have realized she was tied. Like an artist, Echo uses an illusion to reveal a truth. (”It’s a Horrible Life . . . Clarence is back . . . and this time he’s not f—ing around.”) Rayna, while talented, is not an artist, since she uses her talent to create a captivating illusion rather than a liberating one.

------------------------------------------------

This introduction encapsulates Rayna’s dramatic arc. Rayna begins by seeing herself as imprisoned by her own superstardom, Echo confronts her with the fact that she built her own cage and can escape it, and in the end Rayna reconnects with her voice–singing the freedom song in a single spotlight while looking out at other lights. (This hints that she might become a different kind of superstar, one who uses the spotlight on her to see and reveal the light in others. The song has gone from being something she comes from to being a place she’s taking her audience. V. nice.)

These are some snippets from Pointy's review/analysis. I find it exciting to read. I am also intrigued by the parallel'd choice Echo/Jordan makes in this episode. It's an idea that hadn't come to mind before, but re-opens up a door in general: children who rebel against their parents and yet end up being like them. Echo "rebels" against her own programming, and yet makes decisions that the Dollhouse also makes. I highly encourage anyone to check out the site. (Thanks QuoterGal for finding it again!)

Oh, and no, the irony was not lost upon me about the crazy fans in this episode... being one myself. And it's y'all. ;)
We're veering off-topic here, I guess, but am I the only one who wouldn't let a kid watch Buffy because of the amount of *violence* in it?

Probably not ;). I wasn't suggesting I "wouldn't let" a kid watch Buffy because of the sex... it's just one of many reasons why I think it's a show that would be more appreciated by teens / adults. The violence would be one of those reasons too, although as with the sex, I don't think it's a variety that I'd consider damaging for kids. The usually bloodless ass-kickings ending with vampires that go poof isn't so much worse than a lot of Saturday morning cartoons, is it? I mean, I definitely would not want my hypothetical children watching The Sopranos before they were in their teens, but I wouldn't freak out if they were into Buffy. I'd just think they would get way more out of it in a few years.

And thanks all for pointing the way towards Pointy's site (and thanks Pointy :)). It looks like great stuff!
I must say that I'm pretty happy with the show itself, particularly the 3rd episode, that started to gel the ideas and setup together for me. Agree to some extent on Eliza's mannerisms, but I think that would be the case for a lot of actors in the role.

I think that the level of scrutiny the show is under is huge, far more than Buffy ever was. Have you ever gone back and actually re-watched the first half of Buffy Series 1? It was a right mess, they couldn't fight properly, the acting struggled, and the characters were more like caricatures than people. But it made it through, had enough in the ideas/writing/humor to keep it going. But even the writing struggled at times too.

I for one am sick of formula-driven TV, and trying to unravel Dollhouse is a fresh and invigorating watch for me. There is certainly enough intrigue to keep me watching, and enough places for it to resolve to that the story could have longevity for multiple seasons if given the chance to develop.

Some of the questions I currently wondering about are:
Who is Caroline? What did she do and when will it come back to haunt her? (who cares about Echo? She's a construct, Caroline is the important one)
Who sets the Dollhouse agenda, and what will Caroline think/do about it given the chance?
Will Alpha be her nemesis, or her ally? Is Alpha actually who is doing it, or is that a red herring?
Will Ballard end up as a handler?
Did Claire and Alpha have a relationship (and hence why he only scarred her and not killed her like the others)?

Enough questions to keep me watching, and I have enough faith in Joss as a writer that I'm pretty sure, if given the time, he will amaze and entertain us.

And ActualSize, I'd just like to say "me to".
I'm interested that everyone buys that the grossest meaning of "squick" is the "original" one. I think the "squeamish/icky" portmanteau one is a whole lot more likely. Anyone have any actual evidence that the deeply gross necrophilia one is "original"?
Well, I'll see if I can dig up dated evidence - I had never heard it used in the squamish/icky sense until a couple years ago. The definition you heard first may depend on how long you've been on the 'net or who you hang our with. All that I've found so far is etymology claiming it originated in alt.tasteless in 1994 or alt.sex.bondage in 1995 or before 1995. The claim is that the more disturbing definition was from alt.tasteless and the squeamish/icky came from alt.sex.bondage. This totally wasn't in the job description... ;)

ETA - I found a reference to the fouler meaning from a newsgroup in 1991.
My take on the questions:

1. Some of the questions I currently wondering about are:
Who is Caroline? What did she do and when will it come back to haunt her? (who cares about Echo? She's a construct, Caroline is the important one)


I feel completely the other way about this. Caroline, for all purposes, is "dead". She's put away for 5 years. That is, IF Caroline is Echo's "real" self. Who's to say that wasn't an imprint as well?

Caroline's story, to me, is as episodic as the three engagements we've seen so far- they've played their part, now it's time to move on. Caroline's a human, with fears & emotions & habits that limit her to her Caroline self.

Echo, on the other hand, has no fears or emotions or natural habits. And yet she has all of these things. Her canvas doesn't seem to be completely blank, and traces of her previous imprints can be seen. Do these traces (or pieces) make up a whole person? Is Echo a person, in the sense that we are people? Is she (or will she be) anything like Caroline?

Those are the questions that fascinate me.

2. Will Alpha be her nemesis, or her ally? Is Alpha actually who is doing it, or is that a red herring?

Others have brought up Alpha's presence here and I love the whole new lack-of-fourth-wall aspect to it.

3. Will Ballard end up as a handler?

This is the one character where I don't know where to stand on this. Of all the characters on Dollhouse, Paul Ballard seems to be the one I know the least about. Is he a doll? A future handler? If he's "normal", will he succeed in finding Echo? What will he do if he finds out that she's "broken"?

4. Did Claire and Alpha have a relationship (and hence why he only scarred her and not killed her like the others)?

Yeah. I want to know this as well. Alpha took 8 seconds to kill everyone else off with surgical kills (painful, quick, planned). Echo was left alone, untouched (we're waiting to learn why). But Dr. Saunders... why not kill her with the others? If you're not going to kill her, why scratch her face in the first place? And it's the FACE, not the arm, or leg. The one place that Dr. Saunders can't cover up. The lack of precision on her scars makes me think it wasn't a "planned" attack, but one from an emotional response.

@zeitgeist: Good thing it's your hobby? ;)
@korkster - how funny would it be to get paid for it? :)
Interesting take on the show although I don't necessarily agree with much of it. Even more interesting thread. And thanks to korkster for the link to Pointy's site. One more place to bookmark and hope I can eventually find time to peruse.

Watched Stage Fright again last night and liked it a lot more than the first time.
I love Dollhouse but I'm hyper aware of the obvious divide between what Joss wants to do and what he has to do to keep Fox happy, which sometimes makes me feel as if I'm watching two different shows. And causes me to fear mightily for loosing Joss forever from TV, if they cancel it in spite of all the obvious compromises.
But I'll save that for somewhere else.

Leaving now, in case someone takes up the challenge to discuss grossness, which I can't tolerate (not even tempted to look up the meaning of the word in question).

Oh .... so glad I'm not the only one who shudders at "squee". ;)
That is, IF Caroline is Echo's "real" self. Who's to say that wasn't an imprint as well?

I can construct scenarios in which Caroline is an imprint, but they have to work pretty hard to get around that very first scene in the pilot. If Caroline was simply an Active persona, why is Adele bargaining with her? Why not simply "it's time for your treatment" and hey presto?

Caroline, for all purposes, is "dead". She's put away for 5 years.

I think that passes over Echo's encounters with 'Caroline' in "Target" a little too cavalierly. Clearly there are Caroline-memories somewhere in Echo's brain.

Of all the characters on Dollhouse, Paul Ballard seems to be the one I know the least about. Is he a doll? A future handler? If he's "normal", will he succeed in finding Echo? What will he do if he finds out that she's "broken"?

I don't think Ballard can be an Active; Adele and Dominick's discussion of him would make no sense if that were the case (again, one can construct baroque scenarios which would make it plausible, but I hope the storyline won't get that tangled--there's fun in pulling the rug out from under our feet once in a while, but if you do it all the time the audience begins to assume that none of the rugs will ever stay put, and lose interest in the world).

I think there's a good chance he'll be offered the role of handler at some point. Clearly he's the kind of guy they'd like to hire. Hiring him is a cleaner way to get him off their backs than killing him. I'm going to assume, though, that if he does it it will only be either as a way of bringing the Dollhouse down from the inside, or because some new major plot arc has got us to a point where the Dollhouse is actually fighting what Ballard believes to be the "good fight" against some larger menace (the Borodines? Terrorists? American Idol?).
Hah! The definition for squick is fantastic. But then, I'm a little weird.

Yeah, Alpha and Claire had some kind of a connection... that would further explain why she keeps freaking out every time Alpha gets brought up.
Re "squick": here's a link to an online dictionary which has tackled the word's history. It cites a bunch of 1991 uses, most of which seem to lean towards the "things that you feel are too icky for words" definition, and none of which seem to refer to a specific practice (necrophiliac or otherwise).

ETF quotation mark.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-03-04 21:29 ]
Re: words. I share Z's abhorrence for all those sq- words; and "woot" to boot. But, obviously, you get to choose your own poison.

Re: kids and BtVS. My kids have been watching most of the episodes on DVD since they were probably 5 or 6. Much of Season 6 - no. And certain individual episodes with particularly horrific monsters - no. (Yes, it is good to exercise some parental oversight.) But the show worked remarkably well for them - it's funny, it starts out in a school, it's a little scary, which some kids really dig, and it portrays a bunch of good values. As for the violence - it's very stylised, and the kids react to it much as they do to animated violence. To be honest, I think I was keen to show both my daughter and son a strong butt-kicking female hero - and I think that much has definitely paid off. But it's a truism that kids differ hugely, and that Buffy wouldn't be appropriate for many - my neighbor's an enormous fan, but she's never let her kids watch it.
@zeitgeist- I think that would boost it up to hilarious. I was hoping by tossing out that suggestive imagery would convince someone here on the black to make that poem for me for fun, but I guess I would be the only one to benefit. Just think, though! If anyone ever asked you again about the origins of "squick", you could link them a youtube video with bunnies that would explain to them thus. :)

Life would be easier for the mod.

snot:If Caroline was simply an Active persona, why is Adele bargaining with her? Why not simply "it's time for your treatment" and hey presto?

Well, I don't know. When we see Caroline & Adelle, Adelle is waiting for Caroline to say "yes" when Caroline clearly thinks she "has no other choice". If that's the case, then why wait for the "yes"? If Caroline is an imprint, maybe the whole thing is set up to work around their "5 year" limit. The Dollhouse believes they serve a purpose, not trading slaves. Maybe this "negotiation of contract" is their way to think they've chosen this again and still keep their person.

Okay, that's flimsy, but I'm not a writer nor creator. Maybe Caroline is a human, but they simply don't "wipe" away their history as promised. If that's the case, then Caroline's life still has ended because she will never be able to progress beyond the agreement to join the Dollhouse (like Gunn & Lindsay in surburbia-hell).

I think that passes over Echo's encounters with 'Caroline' in "Target" a little too cavalierly. Clearly there are Caroline-memories somewhere in Echo's brain.

Don't we also see other memories and not just Caroline-memories? Whether or not that's the case, we do know that Echo carries more memories than just Caroline's; she carries Echo's (remembering Sierra's friendship), she carries hunted-girl (shoulder to wheel reference)... Just something to keep in mind. There's more than just Caroline in there. Which is why I think Echo is no longer Caroline (if she ever was).
Maybe Caroline is a human, but they simply don't "wipe" away their history as promised. If that's the case, then Caroline's life still has ended because she will never be able to progress beyond the agreement to join the Dollhouse (like Gunn & Lindsay in surburbia-hell).

I have real difficulties with any scenario in which there is no intention at all to honor the contract or in which the contract is a meaningless charade. I just can't see the point in bothering with the playacting. If Caroline is their property from now until her death, then why bother pretending to get her consent? Why not just drug her?

Don't we also see other memories and not just Caroline-memories? Whether or not that's the case, we do know that Echo carries more memories than just Caroline's; she carries Echo's (remembering Sierra's friendship), she carries hunted-girl (shoulder to wheel reference)... Just something to keep in mind.

I don't recall Echo in her drugged state in "Target" having any encounters with previous "imprints"--but I could be wrong. I thought every time she met 'herself' she was saying something strongly 'Carolinish.' (Boy, you just know someone's going to quote "Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there" in this thing one day, don't you?).

As to Echo having memories from her engagements. Yes, that's true. The question of whether those are 'Caroline's' memories seems to me to be still up for grabs. That is, if Echo at some point says "Hey, I remember, I'm Caroline DeWitt of 23 Memory Lane" AND she also says "and I remember being imprinted with all of these characters and I remember lots of wandering around in the Dollhouse doing Tai Chi" ("And you were there, and you were there, and you were there, and Toto was there too!") then hasn't she successfully reintegrated all of these events/memories into the continuing narrative of "Caroline's experiences"?

When you have a dream that you don't remember, did it happen to "you" or to someone else (the dream persona)? If you get so pissed that you can't remember what you did, were those things that happened to someone else? If you remember them later ("Oh my God, I drunk-dialed the President!") do they become "your" memories at that point, or are you "borrowing" someone else's memories? Etc.
It's interesting how we all have our own take on the same show. :-)

To me - Caroline has done something that has ended terribly. Whether accident, or crime, or whatever. Let's say, both her parents have ended up dead, and she's seen as being to blame (whether she is or not) by the powers that be. She faces prison/death/life of despair, but Dollhouse (for whatever reason) give her an out. Either Doll, or [insert bad thing here].

The main path *seems* to me to include, as at least one of it's arcs, Caroline's struggle to regain control of her life through Echo. And what we'll end up with at the end is kind of super-Caroline, with some of the skills/memories/wisdom of each of the imprints along the way.

Next week I'm sure I'll be thinking something completely different, but hey.
[insert bad thing here]

No, I DIDN'T mean it that way. Filthy, filthy people.

:-)
snot - clicky and clicky. However, even in the link you use the oldest ref (April 12) definitely does not point to the squamish/icky definition, though from the context I doubt it refers to the other either. The probable answer that I can piece together after far too much research is that it was used in the "beyond the limits" fashion and someone didn't understand what it meant and asked on alt.tasteless in early '91 and Geoff Miller made up the more horrific definition on the spot, which also stuck. So now it carries two meanings and in either case I will pass :).

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-04 23:46 ]
The probable answer that I can piece together after far too much research is that it was used in the "beyond the limits" fashion and someone didn't understand what it meant and asked on alt.tasteless in early '91 and Geoff Miller made up the more horrific definition on the spot, which also stuck. So now it carries two meanings and in either case I will pass

Yeah, that's my read too. The necrophiliac thing sounds too much like a joke to me: you can see the logic that gets you from "what's a good example of something that would squick you" to "Ha! and that's the sound it makes!"--but it's a lot harder to see a widespread usage deriving from someone saying "I wonder what would be a good word to capture the sound it makes when I..."

In any case, usage ultimately rules: from a usage standpoint, the "real" meaning is obviously the "pushes one beyond one's comfort zone" one.
Re: That word. Wouldn't be surprised if it ended up on an episode of Bones.
Really? That'd be for an interesting killer ep.
To me - Caroline has done something that has ended terribly. Whether accident, or crime, or whatever. Let's say, both her parents have ended up dead, and she's seen as being to blame (whether she is or not) by the powers that be. She faces prison/death/life of despair, but Dollhouse (for whatever reason) give her an out.

Yeah, she's obviously done something that ended badly. I suspect it's not a matter of facing prison, though. I mean, Adele tells her "we can make this all go away." Now, I assume they can't just make the police or a prosecution go away. They're obviously not offering her plastic surgery and a move to another country or something. So if she was facing prosecution, the risk that she'll be spotted from an "America's Most Wanted" show or something is too high.

(Sidebar: what will happen if Echo ever runs into a former acquaintance on an engagement? It must happen occasionally, right?)

Trouble with the mob or something like that seems like a better fit (something that could be solved by large amounts of cash, say)--but it's a bit hard to see how that goes along with "I was just trying to take my place in the world." Something about that makes me think "political activism"--but for that to have gone seriously wrong seems to lead you back into criminal wrongdoing.

Bah--I can't come up with something that really fits. I hope when all is revealed it's something really convincing.
Whether or not children should be kept away from Buffy they certainly should be kept away from this thread :). Some of those definitions of squick are truly revolting
"I have real difficulties with any scenario in which there is no intention at all to honor the contract or in which the contract is a meaningless charade. I just can't see the point in bothering with the playacting. If Caroline is their property from now until her death, then why bother pretending to get her consent? Why not just drug her?"

Just thought I'd chime in on this point, because I believe they do not honor the contracts at all, but they need the person's consent in order to perform the initial brain reboot. When we saw Sierra becoming an active, she was full of acupuncture needles and clearly conscious. So I would argue that the procedure requires a conscious brain, maybe even a willing one, to work. Drugging them would prevent that, so they get consent under false pretenses.

[ edited by EmmBee on 2009-03-05 04:24 ]
That's an interesting idea, EmmBee.
Hmmm, it seems to me (with limited info we have at this point, of course) that it is more likely than not that the contracts ARE intended by the powers that be to be honored. Why? because there are more interesting narrative possibilities down the road -- I am wondering what it means for Caroline/Echo to get out of her contract after the sort of compositing that is/will be taking place: would the de-mobilized Caroline be the ORIGINAL Caroline, or the Echo-plus-some-Caroline-plus-some-other-personas? Is it possible Caroline/Echo might arrive at a point where the company would want to get her out of the contract because she has become such a scary presence to them, but she might not want back exactly "Caroline 1.0" or feel that she needs to keep "Echo +" because of a duty/mission she has discovered that she feels needs to be finished on her terms? It's a version of the "Total Recall" connundrum -- in that case, Arnold's "real" identity is the a**hole spy, but the identity we root for him to keep is the nicer "cover persona" that is active at the start of the movie.
For some reason I really dislike the idea of them not honoring their contracts. I can't put my finger on it. It's clear that the Dollhouse is full of people willing to cross ethical boundaries. But for some reason, this one just seems like too much, even for them. I dunno.

I also hope the attic turns out to be something other than a graveyard for killed (by the Dollhouse) actives. I loves me a good twist.
Oh, that's an interesting idea EmmBee. I was thinking that the client contracts might be indicative of some kind of greater conspiracy around the Dollhouse (some organization powerful enough to enforce them), but the Active contracts are pretty mysterious. It would seem a shame to me if they were never honored.

Also mysterious: What did snot say when he drunk-dialed the President? :)
I think at this point honoring the contracts is the more unexpected way to go. Until we see otherwise, I'm sticking with the idea that they do at least intend to. They fly under the radar for a reason. Maybe Ballard's going about it the wrong way. He thinks they're doing crazy illegal things like having the mob smuggle people for them, when they're just convincing desperate 20-somethings no one notice that they can forget their problems. Not saying it's not still unethical, but maybe it keeps people from finding them because they're looking too high.
Ok, I resisted for a long time but now I looked up "Squick". I must say that English is a rather exotic language ; )
I don't recall Echo in her drugged state in "Target" having any encounters with previous "imprints"--but I could be wrong. I thought every time she met 'herself' she was saying something strongly 'Carolinish.' (Boy, you just know someone's going to quote "Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there" in this thing one day, don't you?).

I'm thinking her memories in "The Target" were both Carolinish and Echoish. The "I try to do my best"-line (in that comfy Active-outfit) felt very much like Echo.

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